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Medical debt continues to soar

Statistics show that the U.S. spends more on health care per capita than any other country. However, not all of this is government spending. Many Virginia residents carry a heavy burden of medical bills. This has resulted in an ever increasing inability to pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with expensive medical necessities.

An insidious consequence underlies the cost of medical care -- those who don't have insurance or whose copayments and deductibles are too high may simply forego necessary treatment. Financial experts report that those who do seek the care they need are very likely to end up with debt as a result. Perhaps the only good news associated with this situation is that medical debt is no longer regarded the same as other types of debt, specifically credit card debt. This provides the consumer with some options.

Typically, the health care provider does not report delinquent accounts directly to the three credit reporting agencies. They instead opt to send the accounts to a debt collector. While this is not usually good news for the consumer, recent regulations require the reporting agencies to wait 180 days before adding delinquent medical debt to a consumer's credit report. This provides more time to seek a resolution.

Unfortunately, extra time is no help for many people. Their debt is too high and there is no practical source of funds to repay the balances. For these individuals, a lawyer can offer counsel and advice as to how personal bankruptcy may be able to provide a fresh start.

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